CCW conference: Protecting Susquehanna and impacts on jobs


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Mel Zimmerman, Clean Water Institute, Lycoming CollegeThe Susquehanna River is the lifeblood of local communities throughout central Pennsylvania. Residents rely on the river for drinking water, recreation, and economic opportunities. It’s no surprise that there has been an outpouring of concern in recent years as anglers and biologists have seen declines in fish populations, especially in young smallmouth bass. Join the discussion to understand what the fish and water quality are telling us about the Susquehanna and parallel concerns in the Shenandoah, Potomac and Juniata Rivers. Hear from experts working to understand the water quality impairments and what needs to be done to restore this once world-class fishery and the economy that relies on it.

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  • So, in order to reach our goal with the unassessed waters initiative, we had to develop a plan.And these are some of the strategies we used…
  • Started with Susquehanna River Heartland Coalition to find partners. Just wanted two partners at first to see how it would go. Word of mouth distribution from there.
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  • In 2010-2011, UW partners have surveyed 1,049 streams and have documented trout in about 55% of those streams.In 2012, 848 new unassessed streams have been sampled and, again, over half of those streams that have had flowing water have had wild trout95% of wild trout found is brook trout species
  • CCW conference: Protecting Susquehanna and impacts on jobs

    1. 1. Protecting The Susquehanna River and Impacts onJobs – Input From Susquehanna River HeartlandCoalitionChoose Clean Water Conference, June 4-5, 2013----Dr MelZimmerman, Lycoming College, PA;
    2. 2. We all livedownstreamandupstreamfromsomebody!
    3. 3.  Drains 27,500 square miles Comprises 43% of theChesapeake Bay’sdrainage area Is one of the most floodprone areas in the nation Supplies 50% of totalfreshwater to theChesapeake Bay Is the 16th largest river inthe United States
    4. 4.  The West Branch Susquehanna watershed drains an area of approximately 4.446million acres just under 7,000 square miles. The basin contains more than 1.4 million acres of State Forest Land Over 250,000 acres of State Game Lands Over 29,000 acres of State Park Land Population within the watershed is approximately 580,000 people
    5. 5.
    6. 6. Confluence of West and North Branch confirmingthe more turbid North Branch and a lack ofmixing of the two branches at their meeting point.
    7. 7. Migration of shad and eels
    8. 8. A FLIR B620 Infrared Camera was also used to inspect the size of thethermal plume and to support the temperature intersect profileperformed based on ground temperature Dataloggers and continuousphysical water properties. The picture was taken at an angle andrelatively at far distance from the sources of heat, so it can only be usedsupport the ground-base temperature data. The photo shows how fardownstream the plume persists.
    9. 9. 76788082848688909294969810025th percentile Min Max 75th percentile Median
    10. 10. 7.918.118.318.518.718.910.410.420.430.440.450.460.470.488/3/2011 14:28 8/3/2011 14:29 8/3/2011 14:29 8/3/2011 14:30 8/3/2011 14:31 8/3/2011 14:31 8/3/2011 14:32 8/3/2011 14:33 8/3/2011 14:34SpCond mS/cm pHTransition zoneWest Branch North Branch
    11. 11. CBF WebsiteTotal Treatmentplants = 121
    12. 12. Figure 2. Causes of Impairment in the West Branch WatershedAcid Mine Drainage1,153 Miles57.6%Agriculture480 Miles24.0%Atmospheric127 Miles6.4%Urban/Road Runoff37 Miles1.9%Other15 Miles0.7%Point Source4 Miles0.2%Source Unknown:Mercury or OtherToxins104 Miles5.2%Habitat Alteration82 Miles4.1%
    13. 13. 1. AMD – Abandoned Mine Drainage/AcidMine Drainage - results when the mineralpyrite (FeS2) is exposed to air andwater, resulting in the formation of sulfuricacid and iron hydroxide Results in the loweringof the streams pH and thecoating of stream bottomswith iron , aluminum or manganese2. Non-Point SourceAgricultural Run-off
    14. 14. Pennsylvania’s Flowing Water Resources - 2008Surveyed Sections Unassessed Sections
    15. 15.  In 2010 PAFB developed a means to involveinterested partners in identifying wild troutpopulations in unassessed waters. PAFB Developed prioritized lists of unassessedstreams. Use GIS technology to identify potential wild troutstreams (watersheds) most at risk.
    16. 16.  Developed and implemented pilot program with two colleges ( Lycomingand Kings) . Expanded to nine partners in 2011, fifteen in 2012 ( fromSRHCES – Lycomig, Kings, Lock Haven and Susquehanna) . Proposal for20 in 2013. PAFB electrofishing and safety protocol training, spot visitsby PAFB staff and QA/QC data entry on PAFB unassessed waters database. Send sampling crews to high priority watersheds and on watersdetermined to be most at risk
    17. 17. Unassessed Waters Initiative – 2012 Partners
    18. 18. Number of Streams Sampled2010 2011 2012PFBC PartnersPFBC StaffTotal626261887438304(1,762 mi)21788(516 mi)3 Year Total – 1,934 Streams Sampled ( 436 by SRHCES group)305 742(2,057 mi)4,335 Miles of StreamsSince 2010, 175 new streams added to the wild trout list (516 miles)Lycomingand Kings
    19. 19. Pennsylvania’s Flowing Water Resources - 2008Surveyed Sections Unassessed Sections
    20. 20. Pennsylvania’s Flowing Water Resources - 2012Surveyed Sections Unassessed Sections
    21. 21. Partially-supported by a State Wildlife Grant administered through the PA Fish & Boat Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,and by grants from the Degenstein Foundation, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, and the Wild Resource Conservation Fund01020304050607080902004 2006 2008 2010 2012NSALBRDocumented Decline of the Eastern Hellbender inLoyalsock Creek, Lycoming County, PennsylvaniaMichelle Herman, Danny Bresticker, andPeter J. PetokasClean Water Institute and Department of Biology,Lycoming College, Williamsport, PennsylvaniaAbstract: We surveyed for eastern hellbenders (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) at two locations onLoyalsock Creek, a major tributary of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Sampling wasconducted annually, between May and August 2006-2011, in order to assess and monitor population size,density, and age and size structure. All captured adults and juveniles were tagged with passive integratedtransponders as part of a long-term study of population dynamics. The two sampling sites are located 8.1km apart and contain extensive bedrock and boulder-bed habitat. Water depths range from 1-4 m and thecurrent is swift, necessitating use of SCUBA for all sampling efforts. Our results depict a dramaticdecline in both of the study populations, with annual sample size dropping precipitously over the sixyears of study from 77 to 2 individuals at the upstream site and 56 to 0 individuals at the downstream site.Hellbender mortality in Loyalsock Creek has been severe and is frequently reported by sportsmen,kayakers, swimmers, and SCUBA divers, with some reports from as far back as the mid-1990’s.Although hellbenders still occur in Loyalsock Creek, they are few in number and population recovery isuncertain. Approximately twenty hellbender carcasses were observed, but only two contained our tags.Possible causes of mortality include parasites, disease, and chemical pollutants such as pesticides andendocrine disruptors. This decline parallels similar declines in hellbender populations in tributary streamsof the Main Stem and North Branch of the Susquehanna River over the past two decades.sssssssssGraph: The number of annualcaptures at the two study locationsdeclined markedly over the sixyears of study (2006-2011).Above: SCUBA was employed to locate andcapture hellbenders. Each was placed inside amesh laundry bag with drawstring closure.Below: These two hellbender carcasses fromLoyalsock Creek did not contain our study tags.Above: Rounded boulder habitat characterizedboth study locations. Hellbenders were founddeep inside the interstices of the boulder beds.Below: Dead eastern hellbender observed at LBRin 2003, three years before this study began.Special Thanks to SunkenTreasure SCUBA Centerand A Water OdysseySCUBAsssssssssYearNo.ofCapturesAbove: The downstream population (LBR) containeda similar number of young adults and older adults.Far Left: The upstream population (NSA) containeda large number of young adults and few older adults.Size Distribution by Length at LBRSize Distribution by Length at NSA
    22. 22.  Aggressive invasion of North Branch of Susquehanna River &West Branch tributary Loyalsock Creek Negative impacts Too large & aggressive for many predators to consume Crowd out natives & outcompete for resources Hybridization: fertile hybrid offspring outcompete & excludegenetically pure natives; documented with O. propinquus & O. limosus -O. obscurus in Loyalsock?? Destroy aquatic plant beds
    23. 23.  Common Name(s): Rusty crayfish Native Range: Ohio River Basin(OH, IN, IL, KT, TN) 1976: First discovered in PA in lowerSusquehanna River Habitat: Lakes, rivers, ponds &streams that have adequate rock, log& debris cover
    24. 24. Water Quality Assessment of the Lower West Branch of the Susquehanna RiverLycoming College Clean Water Institute Interns: Chelsea Brewer, Lynette Dooley, Quentin Reinford, Laura Walter, Fred Rogers, Cory Trego, Leslie Kester, Laura Shelmire, Shannon Lesher, Zeb BuckUnder the Direction of Dr. Mel Zimmerman of Lycoming College, Clean Water Institute ( River Heartland Coalition for Environmental Studies ( from the Degenstein Foundation ( & PurposeDespite being designated as Pennsylvania’s River of theYear for 2005 by the Department of Conservation and NaturalResources, the West Branch of the Susquehanna is not exemptfrom the stigma surrounding the entire Susquehanna River.Increased concern for its overall health arose when the wholeSusquehanna River watershed topped the 2005 list ofAmerica’s Most Endangered Rivers issued by the AmericanRivers Organization ( as a result ofcombined sewage overflow (CFO), as well as elevatednitrogen and sediment loads. Our investigation, which beganin 1999, sought to emulate a 1996 study by Hughey (PADEP) to investigate the impact of sewage treatment plants onthe water quality of this section of the Lower West Branch.In addition, student interns monitored twelve sites along a75-mile stretch of the Lower West Branch of the SusquehannaRiver between Lock Haven and Sunbury. Sites include: LockHaven (2 sites- One above damn, one below), Jersey Shore,Linden, Susquehanna State Park (Williamsport), Greevy boatlaunch (Loyalsock), Muncy, Montgomery, Watsontown,Milton, Chillisaque boat launch (Northumberland), andMarina (Sunbury). Summer interns will continue to monitorthese sites on a monthly basis.ResultsIn addition to the evaluation of pH, alkalinity,conductivity, and nutrient levels, interns also focused theirefforts on documenting the Biochemical Oxygen Demand(BOD) and coliform bacteria at each site. Macroinvertebratesamples were also collected at suitable sites by use of rockbaskets, some of which were equipped with hester-dendysamples. Sites with rock baskets include data for the WestBranch (Watsontown), North Branch (Danville), and Mainstem (Shady Nook) of the Susquehanna river.Water quality data can be found at the Clean WaterInstitute webpage ( where flow from Watsontown meets the flow from Danville.Discharge Source at Kelly Twp. Sewage Treatment Plant Confluence of West and North Branches of theSusquehanna River at SunburyConclusionParameter means and standard deviations for the West Branch Susquehanna River at Susquehanna State Park, 1999, 2000,2006, 2011, 20121995 Mean ± 2000 Mean ± 2006 Mean ± 2011 Mean ± 2012 Mean ±ParameterStandardDeviationStandardDeviationStandardDeviationStandardDeviationStandardDeviationpH 7.3 ± 0.28 7.1875 ± 0.33 7.03 ± 0.07 7.06 ± 0.355 6.93 ± 0.43Alkalinity (ppm) 20 ± 7.62 27.25 ± 8.17 19.16 ± 5.12 29.19 ± 16.75 34.98 ± 16.52Nitrate (ppm) 0.252 ± 0.36 0.522 ± .34 1.1 ± 0.85 1.32 ± 0.58 0.86 ± 0.24Nitrite (ppm) 0.00368 ± 0 0.0069 ± 0 0.0052 ± 0 0.006 ± 0.002 0.006 ± 0.001Orthophosphate (ppm) 0.0108 ± 0.001 0.025 ± 0.001 0.09 ± 0.03 0.086 ± 0.082 0.036 ± .015Total Phosphorus ( ppm)0.56 ± 0.18 0..44 ± 0.220..47 ± 0.13 0.153 ± 0.153 0.17 ± 0.06Temperature ( C ) 12.96 ± 7.77 17.775 ± 5.28 24.13 ± 3.92 23.33 ± 3.802 27.86 ± 6.69Total Dissolved Solids(ppm)102 ± 9.8193 ± 6.9 77.2 ± 8.2 36.61 ± 48.125 117.7 ± 29.43Dissolved Oxygen (ppm)7.2 ± 0.27 ± 1.63 7.47 ± 2.58 7.26 ± 1.66 6.97 ± 10.88Although a large amount of data has beencollected, the surveying of the West Branch ofthe Susquehanna is a work in progress. Effortswill be taken to compile all macroinvertebrateand water chemistry data and determinerelationships to water quality based oncorrelations between the two. Efforts will becontinued with the Danville and Shady Nooksites as well..In 2012, Zebidiah Buck completed a guideto common Macroinvertebrates in the WestBranch and Tributaries. The contents listedbelow are separated by family.Rock basket with hester-dendy attachments2012 CWI summer internsRock basket being placed at WatsontownSonde device used for live data feed.012345Jay st. bridgeLock HavenJersey ShoreLindenSusquehanna ParkMontoursvilleMuncyMontgomeryWatsontownMiltonChillisquaqueSunburyMeanStd. Dev.Concentration of Nitrate (ppm)Order Amphipoda:1. Family Gammaridaea. GammarusOrder Coleoptera:1. Elmidaea. Stenelmis2. Psephenidaea. Psephenus3. HaliplidaeOrder Decopoda:1. Cambaridaea. OrconectesOrder Diptera:1.Chironomidae2. Simuliidae3. TipulidaeOrder Ephemeroptera:1. Caenidaea. Caenis2. Isonychiidaea. Isonychia3. Heptageniidaea. Stenonemab. Maccraffertiumc. Heptageniad. Stenacrone. Leucrocuta4. Batidaea. Baetisb. Acentrella5. Tricorythidaea. Tricorythades6. Potamanthidaea.Anthopotamus7. Ephemerellidae8. Leptophelbiidae9. EphemeridaeOrder Gastropoda:1. Pleuroceridaea. LymnaeidaeOrder Isopoda:1. AsellidaeOrder Megaloptera:1. Sailidaea. Sialis2. Corydalidaea. CroydalusOrder Odonata:1. Coenagrionidaea. ArgiaZygoptera (sub-order)Order Plecoptera:1. Leuctridaea. Leuctra2. Perlodiadae3. Taeniopterygidae4. Isoperla5. Perlidaea.NeoperlaOrder Trichoptera:1. Hydropsychidaea.Cheumatopsycheb. Hydropsyche2. Lepidostomatidae3. Philopotamiidaea. Chimarra4. Polycentropodidaea. Neureclipsis5. RhyacophilidaeMap provided courtesy of Jeff Brunskill, Department ofGeography & Geosciences, Bloomsburg UniversityMacoinvertebrate Density (org/m²) Data from River StudySummer 2012Site: Watsontown DanvilleRock Basket Density (org/m²):Left Bank (org/m²) N/A 1263.2 ± 1392.44Center (org/m²) 1594.4 ± 163.78 2017.3 ± 2400.30Right Bank (org/m²) 983.3 ± 652.82 3377.8 ± 2291.71Hester-Dendy Density (org/m²):Left Bank (org/m²) N/A 1830 ± 296.98Center (org/m²) 1605 ± 558.61 2815 ± 827.31Right Bank (org/m²) N/A N/AGrand Mean (org/m²) ± Std. DeviationRock Basket Density (org/m²): 1288.9 ± 345.80 2219.4 ± 1071.67Hester-Dendy Density (org/m²): 1458.3 ± 171.34 2561.7 ± 643.55*Density calculation is a work in progress at this time. Values labeled N/A arebeing determined within the next month.Additional monitoring hasbeen made possiblethrough use of sondedataloggers placed atMilton and Danville sites.This equipment is sharedby Susquehanna RiverHeartland Coalition forEnvironmental Studies.